Chesterhill, a village located in southern Morgan County has become an entrepreneurial hotbed in an area that hasn’t seen much economic development in recent decades.
A village proud of its diversity has come to recognize its growth potential and regard itself as being in lock-step with the rest of the nation.
“There is the great synergy going on in the Chesterhill area with small businesses,” Local Entrepreneur Karen Peters said. “They are the gems that help push our area and region forward.”
What some may consider a left-wing or progressive business model has garnered a following and brought success to many involved. The business leaders are partnering to promote and provide support with each other by recommending neighborhood establishments and attractions to their patrons.
The first enterprise to reap success was the Chesterhill Produce Auction that began in 2005. The CPA aggregates local farmers by providing an outlet to sell their goods to consumers, retailers and restaurants who attend the auctions to purchase the local goods. The CPA is one of the few organizations that appreciate and support the local Amish community.
The CPA is spearheaded by Rural Action, a non-profit organization that strives for improving communities throughout the region. Rural Action has assisted the CPA in acquiring grants and loans to grow and improve their operation.
Rural Action Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry Director Tom Redfern said gross sales for the CPA totaled $313,000 in 2018 and the CPA has made over $1.8 million in direct payments to local farmers since 2010.
Local Businessman Ron Mayle Jr. has operated Ron’s Auto and Convenience Center for over 25 years. He sells produce from the CPA at his establishment and understands the importance of community. Mayle sees the potential of the upcoming village wide sewer project as a win for the community.
“The sewer will allow businesses like car washes and laundromats to start that aren’t here now,” Mayle said.
Kathy Strode and Rosie Berardi opened the Triple Nickel Diner in September 2016 and offer home cooked meals with locally sourced food. Additionally, the diner also sells home baked cookies, and pies by local baker Nancy Starling.
Ken and Karen Peters recently opened the Milk House Cottage and Gardens on Airbnb.com. It is a cozy cabin created to cater to tourists exploring the area’s history and natural resources while looking for alternatives to the Hocking Hills and Burr Oak Lake lodging. The Peters’ recommend their fellow Chesterhill business establishments to their clientele.
“Many of our customers walk to center of town or down Henman Run to the park,” Ken said. “The Buckeye Trail is basically in our back yard and many of our customers enjoy hiking.”
Chesterhill businesses have recognized and began taking advantage of their unique geographical location to attract tourism and potential business opportunities from Hocking, Athens and Washington Counties. These entrepreneurs are proud of their community and are making impressive strides toward its improvement.